Randy Ambrosie won’t comment on Gary Stern but wants ‘best possible situation’ for Alouettes

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CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie reiterated his support for the Montreal Alouettes on Tuesday at the league’s winter meetings in Kananaskis, Alta. as the club has entered yet another period of uncertainty.

The Alouettes are currently without a president as Mario Cecchini wasn’t offered a contract extension following the completion of this past season. Herb Zurkowsky of the Montreal Gazette reported that Cecchini told staff members he would return to the team in three or four months, suggesting he believes the team will be sold this winter and he will be rehired under its new ownership.

Enigmatic minority owner Gary Stern is highly active on social media, often engaging fans regarding the latest about his team. When asked about the state of Stern’s relationship with the Alouettes and the CFL as a whole, Ambrosie declined to address it.

“It’s really not for me to comment on. It was clear to me through dialogue that the reporting relationship with the league would be with the majority owner and that’s where we have focused our energy,” Ambrosie said. “What I want is the best possible situation for the Alouettes. I want long-term success for the Alouettes.”

75 percent of the team’s ownership lies with the estate of Sid Spiegel, the late steel magnate who passed away in July 2021. Stern, Spiegel’s son-in-law, owns the remaining 25 percent stake.

Stern wrote an open letter this past August announcing that he had stepped away from the day-to-day operations of the team and resigned from the league’s board of governors. He described his decision as “reluctant” but “firm” explaining that the plans he and his father-in-law had for the team were “effectively shelved” following his death.

Though those in charge of Spiegel’s estate have not spoken publicly regarding their plans for the team, Ambrosie is confident that they have the best interests of the team at heart. He also indicated that they are looking to partner with local investors, presumably to propagate a sale.

“I have been in a constant state of conversation with the majority owners and representatives of the majority owners, and I can tell you that they are remarkably good people to work with. I can tell you that talking with them last night, I can clearly say they have a clear commitment to a bright future for the Montreal Alouettes,” Ambrosie said.

“They are interested in the potential conversations with local investors and local groups who might want to get involved in the Alouettes and they’re interested in those conversations as well. But just generally, the tone is so positive and the conversation with the majority owner of the team have been very positive. I’m very comforted by that and I’ve committed to them to continue to work with them and collaborate with them to create the best future possible for the Alouettes.”

General manager Danny Maciocia is hopeful that Montreal will find greater stability in the future, though he believes the team will still be competitive in 2023. The club reached the East Final this past season despite Stern stepping back and Maciocia making a big change early in the year, firing Khari Jones to take over as head coach himself.

“I will say this about ownership, especially as far as the estate and Gary Stern is concerned: they’ve been extremely supportive. It hasn’t affected us on the field. Clearly, these situations that we experienced in 2022, we don’t want to experience them moving forward. We don’t need that type of distraction,” Maciocia said.

“We want the focus to be on the players and on the product on the field and hopefully that’ll be the case here with the upcoming season. But it shouldn’t prevent us or prohibit us from putting a competitive team on the field.”

Maciocia indicated that he is not currently interested in becoming Montreal’s president, though he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of considering the role sometime in the future. He also said he is not aware of any potential sale involving the club at this time.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.